Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel speaks in many ways about the relationships between non-Christians and Christians, and the messages that the passage implies may not be altogether flattering to us who have accepted the baptism of the Lord. The disciples in this passage from the gospel tell Jesus they encountered a man who was exorcising devils in Jesus’ name. This man was not a disciple of Jesus, and the disciples report they told him to stop his use of Jesus’ name because he was not one of them. There has been a history of triumphalism among Christians, and perhaps the account we read today is the first record of that history.
Human goodness surrounds us, and I have found courageous kindness everywhere is my life, among people who believe in Jesus and among those who do not. Jesus corrects his disciples for believing only those who are numbered among his followers can do good things. Jesus knew, and all of us can witness, that human beings, whether or not they are Christians, are quite capable of much good. God speaks in every human heart, whether or not that heart is attached to a mind that confesses Jesus, and we do well to recognize and celebrate God’s achievements among believers and non-believers alike.
Moreover, we who subscribe to the Lord’s way of life often do not live it, and our way of living becomes a scandal for non-believers. In America in recent decades, many of us Christians have demonstrated such unbridled intolerance that we have made the word Christian synonymous with bigoted and closed-minded. How can we claim to carry Christ’s gospel to the world when our arrogant dogmatism repels the very persons we profess we would attract.
The gospel beckons us to proclaim Jesus with a mind open to goodness wherever it is to be found. Most of us live lives that can carry the gospel to nonbelievers only through the attractiveness of our lives, so it would seem our vocation is to live lives that actually attract people.
Spiritual reading: Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew. (Saint Francis de Sales)
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: On this feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Jesus mysteriously tells Nathaniel that he saw him under the fig tree and Nathaniel then confesses his faith that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus tells Nathaniel that he will see greater things and alludes to Jacob’s dream where Jacob saw the angels climb up and down a ladder between God and humanity. Jesus understood time in relationship to the goal of time, which is the ultimate union of all things with God, so the reference to Jacob’s dream refers to the end times. But he also is speaking to Nathaniel about an immediate interest, what Nathaniel will see over the next several years as Jesus’ ministry unfolds: Jesus himself is the bridge which connects heaven and earth.
Saint of the day: We call the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael “saints” because they are holy. But they are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They protect human beings, and we know something about each of them from the Bible.
Michael’s name means “who is like God?” Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation, and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We ask Michael to make us strong in our love of the Good News.
Gabriel’s name means “the power of God.” He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke’s Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We ask Gabriel to help us to proclaim the Good News.
Raphael’s name means “God has healed.” We read the story of Raphael’s role in Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God’s throne. We ask Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to the store or school.
Spiritual reading: The soul at its highest is found like God, but an angel gives a closer idea of Him. That is all an angel is: an idea of God. (Meister Eckhart)
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage begins with Jesus praying in solitude. In the stillness, as evidenced by the question Jesus poses to his disciples when he emerges from his meditation, the Lord sits with the issue of who he is. When we still all the interior voices and become empty in the presence of God, in a seamless embrace of I and Thou, we are stripped of all our fantasies and illusions, and naked before God, there is nothing in us but the one whom God sees completely, honestly, lovingly. In surrendering our identity to God, we discover our identity in God.
Saint of the day: Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Manila in about 1600 of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him.”
At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.
Spiritual reading: Peace begins with a smile. (Mother Teresa)
In today’s readings, we see Joshua and John troubled, even jealous, because someone was invoking the God’s Spirit or in John’s case invoking Jesus Name. Both were brought to task, by Moses and then by Jesus. Really there is no limiting of the Spirit of God. Certainly Jesus has formed a new family or today we call a Church, but it is not the exclusive and only receiver of the Spirit. In fact, God is everywhere and he speaks and acts where he wills, not always where we expect. If the Spirit speaks through someone with a message we don’t like or want to hear it is easy to say he or she is not one of us. But what if this person invokes Jesus’ name and is true to his teachings. Jesus said: “For whoever is not against us is for us.” Must we not be aware that God speaks and acts where and through whoever he wants. It is up to us to be open and receptive to those who speak out and respond when we hear even painful things. The church today has gone through centuries of division closed off even from God at times and speaking exclusively within itself. The “Little Ones”, the believers following Jesus have at times been harmed and cut off from him by the Church’s being a closed circle excluding what could invigorate it, because of comfort, or single mindedness, or narrow values or beliefs. But is there not an arrogance in circling the wagons to keep Jesus beliefs? Didn’t Jesus call on us to recognize God’s presence all around us? We surely see it in nature, but what about the people we see day to day? Does not God speak through them even at times through their unbelief? Are we open enough to sense and hear his voice wherever it might be?
The sick, the addict, the dying, the distressed all call out for help. Is this not God calling us to bring Christ to them? We have to cut off or remove whatever stands in the way. Believers, followers, all people need to see us as an all encompassing, open, welcoming, listening Church, seeking the Lord where He is and not where we want him to be. After all who are we to limit Him in any way? The Church guides and leads and brings God’s Word and Sacrament, but the power unleashed by these is meant for all of humanity, hopefully to bring them to the loyal church. Anyone seeking God can receive his Spirit and even non believers can be led to Him. Also, let us not forget that God is a forgiving God and rejects no one unless there is the final complete rejection of sinfulness at the very end. But only God knows that. So therefore, we must be ready to hear and extend God’s Spirit and love and forgiveness to all.
What we possess and share, enables our giving of the Spirit. So let us remember God speaks to us and through us especially in our acts of love and sharing of his Word. Let us pray nothing ever stands in the way of that
Gospel reading of the day:
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus is like a great reflecting pool. When any of us bend over to peer at the water, we don’t really look at the water but instead focus on our own image. I talk about Jesus a lot, and these conversations occur with both believers and non-believers; I am struck by how consistently people project their own core issues into their understanding of Jesus’ identity. I think that says something wonderful about how big Jesus is, but I also think it presents a spiritual challenge to those who are thinking about him.
In today’s gospel, Herod asks who Jesus is. Later in the gospel, Jesus comes before Herod, and the King wants Jesus, like a circus magician, to perform some tricks for him. We know from elsewhere in the gospels that Herod loved his diversions, and when he looks Jesus in the face, he sees an amusement. When Herod looks into Jesus’ face, he, like so many of us, gets lost in his own illusions and personal issues.
A spiritual life is a life devoted to breaking the illusions which enslave us. God calls us, as the 13th century Bishop Richard of Wyche prayed, to know Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day. We can answer the question of who Jesus really is, and destroy our personal illusions, by long and deep listening through meditation and prayer. God is incompatible with our illusions, and Jesus forms in our minds an image of a God which is both simple and honest. Our coming to know Jesus as he is, and not as we want him to be, means precisely this: that we conform ourselves to God as God is.
Saint of the day: Born at Pouy, Gascony, France, in 1580 into a peasant family, Vincent de Paul died at Paris, September 27, 1660. He made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa, were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology. Ordained in 1600, he remained at Toulouse or in its vicinity acting as tutor while continuing his own studies
The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent’s eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.
It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.
Later Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.” He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.
Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.
Spiritual reading: It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer…. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. (Vincent de Paul)
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus calls all of us to a poverty of spirit, that is, a position of complete dependence on God. Jesus calls us to a life that assumes God is in charge, and we are creatures created to praise, love, and serve God. Before all else, we depend on God for our happiness and fulfillment. The gospel passage calls us to a radical freedom where we serve God and others without reliance on anything but God’s goodness.
Saint of the day: Today is the memorial of Cosmas and Damian. These two martyrs were twin brothers from Syria who lived in the fourth century. They were very famous students of science and both became excellent doctors. Cosmas and Damian saw in every patient a brother or sister in Christ. For this reason, they showed love to each one and treated their patients to the best of their ability. Yet no matter how much care a patient required, neither Cosmas nor Damian ever accepted any money for their services. For this reason, they were called by a name in Greek which means “the penniless ones.”
Every chance they had, the two saints told their patients about Jesus. Because the people all loved these twin doctors, they listened. Cosmas and Damian often brought health back to both the bodies and the souls of those who came to them for help.
When Diocletian’s persecution of Christians began in their city, the saints were arrested at once. They had never tried to hide their Christian faith. They were tortured, but nothing could make them give up their belief in Christ. They had lived for him and had brought so many people to his love. So at last, they were put to death in the year 303. These martyrs are named in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass.
Spiritual reading: When you live in the false self you are “eccentric,” or off-center. (Richard Rohr)
Gospel reading of the day:
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The Law of Moses, particularly as practiced in Jesus’ day, revolved around issues of what placed persons inside and outside the Law. Fastidious attention to issues such as dietary restrictions, touching and not touching members of certain classes of people, and cleaning dishes and one’s own body made a believer either acceptable or unacceptable. Jesus makes clear that external and incidental realities, like family ties, don’t touch the core of a person. Being open to God and living the values of the Kingdom are more elemental in our connection to Jesus.
Saint of the day: Born in 1818 to Sicilian nobility, Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet was the son of Marquis Luigi Dusmet. Educated at the abbey of San Martino delle Scales from when he was five-years-old, he became a Benedictine monk who made his formal vows on August 13, 1840 at the abbey of Monte Cassino. He taught philosophy and theology in Benedictine houses. A priest Giuseppe was prior of the monastery of San Severino, Naples from 1850 and became prior of the monastery of San Flavio, Caltanissetta, Sicily in 1852. From 1858, he was abbot of the monastery of San Nicolo l’Arena, Catania, Sicily. The monastery was later confiscated by the state soon after the founding of the kingdom of Italy. In 1867, he came archbishop of Catania, Sicily and a cardinal in 1889.
Spiritual reading: In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. (Mahatma Ghandi)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Being Christian is a great light in the world. If you or turn a light on, we don’t put the lamp in a closet. Instead, we set it in a place where it illuminate the room for anyone who passes through. Today’s gospel passage calls us to give what we receive. It is ironic that we find what it means to be Christian by giving it away: it doubles in being halved. If we hide it, we will lose it or risk never perhaps having had it at all.
Saint of the day: Born on March 1, 1653 at San Severino, Pacificus was the son of Antonio Divini and Mariangela Bruni, both of whom died when Pacificus was about three-years-old. They left him to be raised by an uncle. Pacificus joined the Franciscans in December 1670 and was ordained in 1678. A professor of philosophy, he taught novices and served as a parish missionary. His health failed and he spent his final 29 years lame, deaf, and blind, leading a contemplative life. Pacificus is said to have received ecstasies and been a miracle worker.
There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.
And I often sing.
But still, my dear,
You do not come out.
I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside you.
We should talk about this problem—
I will never leave you alone.
(Hafiz, a Sufi poet)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The Church calls us on this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time to reflect on a passage redolent with subtle and overt foreboding. Though Mark does not spell it out, the subsequent passages of the gospel suggest that at the start of this passage, that is, with Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, the Lord is leaving Galilee for the last time in his life. The rest of Mark’s gospel shows Jesus on the way to Jerusalem and the events of Jesus’ fateful last week of his ministry. At the same time as Jesus winds down his public ministry in Galilee, he turns his attention to his closest followers: the passage tells us that as Jesus journeys through Galilee, he did not wish anyone to know about it. Jesus doesn’t want to be distracted: often times, as people wind down their lives, they focus their attention more and more on the people who are nearest to them.
There also is overt foreboding as well. For the second time in Mark’s gospel, Jesus predicts to his followers that he will be handed over and killed. Just as they did when Jesus first predicted his death, this second time, the disciples do not understand. Even worse, they seem to regress, because after the first prediction, at least Peter engages the Lord in a conversation, but after this prediction, they are afraid even to question him.
Even so, the passage reveals that Jesus’ warning may not entirely have eluded the disciples: when Jesus and the disciples arrive in Capernaum, Jesus asks them what they were arguing about on the road. In fact, Jesus knows quite well what they were arguing about: the question of who among them is the greatest. Because the question of who is greatest follows the second prediction of Jesus’ passion and because the disciples are embarrassed that Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, some writers have wondered whether the disciples might have been discussing who would take over the group once Jesus died.
But Jesus confounds their expectations about greatness when he tells the disciples that the one who desires to be the greatest is not the one who lords it over others but the one who makes himself the servant of all. Over and over again, the gospels make clear that Jesus availed himself of circumstances to create teachable moments. Obviously, a child was near at hand; at this time and in this culture, a child was not a symbol of innocence but rather, a symbol of powerless and a person devoid of any social status. Jesus calls this youth, totally without influence, over to himself and says that, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.” In Jesus’ day, not unlike oftentimes our own, an emissary enjoyed the benefits of the status of the one who sent him. What Jesus is telling us is that when we receive people who powerless and without influence, we receive him. Jesus’ teaching here is entirely consistent with his sermon at the end of Matthew’s gospel where he says that the elect will say to him:
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?
In last week’s gospel, Jesus invited us to pick up our crosses and follow him. In this week’s gospel, he invites us through our deaths to ourselves to embrace the lives of the most marginalized among us.
Spiritual reading: In prayer all are equal. (Rumi)
When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.
“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage comes in Luke’s gospel immediately after Luke’s observation that Jesus went about with his companions preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. When Luke presents the parable of the sower, he provides an example of the kind of teaching that Jesus gave to illustrate the nature of the kingdom.
Luke records the parable of the sower of the seed in much the same way that Mark and Matthew relate it, but there is a difference in nuance. While Matthew emphasizes understanding, Luke emphasizes faith and perseverance. In Luke’s account of the parable, everyone hears the word, but Luke is aware that it is possible to lose what one has received. For Luke, our faith in Jesus and the kingdom must not disappear when the Devil comes to test us or when it is choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life; instead, Luke encourages us to nurture our faith and let it bear fruit through perseverance. Membership in God’s kingdom, then, according to Luke’s rendition of the parable, consists of faith and perseverance in faith. The Church ever has taught that we should always pray to persevere to the end, so let us pray for one another.
Saint of the day: Augustinian bishop Thomas of Villanueva was born in 1488 at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, as the son of a miller. He studied at the University of Alcala, earned a licentiate in theology, and became a professor there at the age of twenty-six. He declined the chair of philosophy at the university of Salamanca and instead entered the Augustinian Canons in Salamanca in 1516.
Ordained in 1520, he served as prior of several houses in Salamanca, Burgos, and Valladolid, as provincial of Andalusia and Castile, and then court chaplain to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. During his time as provincial of Castile, he dispatched the first Augustinian missionaries to the New World. They subsequently helped evangelize the area of modern Mexico. He was offered but declined the see of Granada but accepted appointment as archbishop of Valencia in 1544. As the see had been vacant for nearly a century, Thomas devoted much effort to restoring the spiritual and material life of the archdiocese. He was also deeply committed to the needs of the poor. He held the post of grand almoner of the poor, founded colleges for the children of new converts and the poor, organized priests for service among the Moors, and was renowned for his personal saintliness and austerities. While he did not attend the sessions of the Council of Trent, he was an ardent promoter of the Tridentine reforms throughout Spain. He died in 1555.
Spiritual reading: Facing outward, human existence is spiritual insofar as it intentionally engages reality as a maximally inclusive whole and makes the cosmos an intentional object of thought and feeling. Facing inward, life has a spiritual dimension to the extent that it is experienced as the project of one’s most vital and enduring self, and it is structured by experiences of sudden transformation and subsequent slow development. (Spirituality, Diversion and Decadence: The Contemporary Predicament by Peter H. Van Ness)